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Aboitiz Group, DA Partner To Digitalize PH Agriculture

Aboitiz Group and the Department of Agriculture (DA) launched Byaheng Digiskarte ni Ani at Kita led by Secretary William Dar (upper right) last August 2. The launching was attended virtually (from left to right) by Aboitiz Equity Ventures First Vice President for Corporate External Relations Christopher Camba, Aboitiz Foundation President and Chief Operating Officer Maribeth Marasigan, UnionBank Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer and Operations Chief Transformation Officer Henry Rhoel Aguda and Pilmico Foods Corporation Vice President for Brand and Marketing Joeben Gamatero.

Recognizing the value of innovation and technology to advance business and communities especially amid the pandemic, the Aboitiz Group in partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA) launched “Byaheng Digiskarte ni Ani at Kita” or BiDA Kita. BiDA Kita is a mentoring program designed to help agri-enterprises become digital and it is aligned with the  key strategy of One DA Reform Agenda, which is Technology, Innovation and Digital Agriculture.

This program will match agri-enterprises with expert mentors along various topics, such as using mobile phones, internet, email, and video conferencing; establishing digital presence through social media and e-commerce platforms; enhancing skills in digital marketing, and using applications for business operations.

In his message,  Agriculture Secretary William Dar emphasized that the push for the digitalization of the country's agricultural sector has been one of  DA's goals especially under the  new normal.

“In partnership with Aboitiz Foundation, we are launching the ‘Byaheng Madigiskarte ni Ani at Kita’, a mentoring program designed to help in the recovery and growth of MSMEs and cooperatives that were affected during the pandemic, by helping them adopt a digital mindset. With the use of mobile phones, internet, and other online platforms, they will be able to effectively reach more buyers, improve business, and organizational operations and enhance member services,” Sec. Dar said.

Sec. Dar also highlighted the importance of helping and empowering the agri-fisheries sector by providing them with the technical marketing and financial support they need.

“We are thankful to the Aboitiz Foundation, UnionBank, Bayad Center, GCash, IOT Valley and Philippine Association of Agriculturist Inc., for being part of our goal in digitalising Philippine agriculture. We look forward to more partnerships like this, where we can help our farmers and fisherfolks achieve their ‘masaganang ani at mataas na kita,“ he added.

For Aboitiz Foundation, digital technology is not only a solution but also a powerful tool to help solve various challenges of enterprises.

“We came up with the project ‘Byaheng Digiskarte’ because we want to help enterprises overcome their daily challenges by using mobile phones, internet, social media and e-commerce platforms. While a general appreciation of the opportunities offered by digital transformation is emerging, many enterprises continue to lack orientation and fail to prioritize digitization. Meanwhile, at  the community level, the farmers need support in keeping up with the times to make them more digitally literate and capable,” Aboitiz Foundation President and COO Maribeth L. Marasigan said.

Meanwhile, Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV) First Vice President for External Relations Christopher Camba shared that this approach is anchored on the Aboitiz Group’s belief that the growth of people and the advancement of their welfare are fundamental to the development of the society and of the Philippines.

“We are grateful for this opportunity to collaborate with the Department of Agriculture (DA) to promote digital mindset among farmers and fisherfolks, as a major step towards establishing digital agriculture through ‘Byaheng Digiskarte ni Ani at Kita or BIDA KITA’. Partnerships have always played a significant part in what we do in Aboitiz. Just like the DA, we believe in the value of engaging and involving our stakeholders especially in driving relevant programs to advance our communities,” he added.

UnionBank Chief Technology and Operations Officer and Chief Transformation Officer Henry Rhoel Aguda thanked Sec. Dar, Usec. Roldan Gorgonio, and Dennis Franco Layug, DA Senior Technical Advisor for ICT, Farm Digitization and Marketing, for allowing UnionBank to participate in this worthwhile endeavor.

“Unionbank believes in ‘Tech Up, Pilipinas’ advocacy. And as our CEO always says, nobody gets left behind. So from financing to digital payment for your stakeholders in this very big initiative, we will be behind you. We will be with you in this journey, we will see this through together with our colleagues in the Aboitiz Group,” Aguda said.

Byaheng Digiskarte’ is an initiative under the enterprise development program of Aboitiz Foundation. The program supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 8, ‘Decent work  and Economic Growth’ as it empowers MSMEs and cooperative members with technical skills, financial and infrastructure support, and access to markets to help grow and expand their businesses. The program has an initial enrollment of over 30 MSME’s and cooperatives in two (2) regions and is expected to benefit over 150 individuals.

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